Harris and Blumenthal Demand Entire Trump Cabinet Cooperate with Ongoing Investigations, Protect Whistleblowers and Inspectors General
Letter Warns That Efforts to Destroy Evidence or Intimidate Whistleblowers Would Be Evidence of Obstruction of Justice
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), both former state attorneys general, on Wednesday sent a letter to every Trump cabinet official calling on them to cooperate with all ongoing and future investigations related to the potential wrongdoing by the President of the United States, preserve all evidence relevant to their departments, and protect whistleblowers and the independence of inspectors general.
In the letter, the senators also demanded that cabinet officials answer a number of questions, including whether the president or anyone at the White House has ever made a request or suggestion—implicit or explicit—that they or department personnel interfere with the work of inspectors general to conduct independent audits or investigations.
“As former attorneys general we know the importance of ensuring that all relevant evidence is preserved and witnesses are protected,” wrote the senators. “The president has referred to the Intelligence Community whistleblowers as partisans and traitors, which is a clear attempt to intimidate them and additional whistleblowers from coming forward. Just as whistleblowers should not be threatened by administration officials, inspectors general should not be interfered with or intimidated.”
The senators continued, “Allowing anyone in your department to destroy evidence, intimidate whistleblowers, or interfere with independent inspectors general investigations would all be additional evidence of obstruction of justice. It is your responsibility to direct all personnel in your agency to cooperate with on-going investigations. This is critical to the proper functioning and the faith of the American people in their government, especially now.”
The full letter is available here or below:
October 9, 2019
The Honorable Sonny Perdue The Honorable Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Agriculture Secretary of Commerce
U.S. Department of Agriculture U.S. Department of Commerce
The Honorable Mark Esper The Honorable Betsy DeVos
Secretary of Defense Secretary of Education
U.S. Department of Defense U.S. Department of Education
The Honorable Rick Perry The Honorable Alex Azar
Secretary of Energy Secretary of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Energy U.S. Department of Health and
The Honorable Kevin McAleenan The Honorable Ben Carson
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Department of Housing and
The Honorable David Bernhardt The Honorable Eugene Scalia
Secretary of Interior Secretary of Labor
U.S. Department of Interior U.S. Department of Labor
The Honorable Mike Pompeo The Honorable Elaine Chao
Secretary of State Secretary of Transportation
U.S. Department of State U.S. Department of Transportation
The Honorable Steven Mnuchin The Honorable Robert Wilkie
Secretary of the Treasury Secretary of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Department of the Treasury U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The Honorable William Barr The Honorable Joseph Maguire
Attorney General Acting Director of National Intelligence
U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Director of National
The Honorable Gina Haspel The Honorable Mick Mulvaney
Central Intelligence Agency Office of Management and Budget
The Honorable Andrew Wheeler The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
Administrator U.S. Trade Representative
Environmental Protection Agency
Mr. Chris Pilkerton
U.S. Small Business Administration
Dear Members of the Cabinet:
In recent weeks, the American people have learned of multiple, credible allegations of wrongdoing on the part of administration officials, including the President of the United States. These allegations were brought to light by whistleblowers who sought the help and protection of inspectors general. As former attorneys general we know the importance of ensuring that all relevant evidence is preserved and witnesses are protected. We call on you to take immediate action to identify and preserve all relevant evidence and cooperate with ongoing and future investigations.
The whistleblowers allege deeply troubling activities and attempts by the Administration to withhold information from Congress and the American public. In the case of the Intelligence Community whistleblower, who provided evidence that the president solicited foreign interference in our upcoming elections, Trump administration lawyers authorized the acting Director of National Intelligence to withhold the complaint from Congressional intelligence committees. The president has referred to the Intelligence Community whistleblowers as partisans and traitors, which is a clear attempt to intimidate them and additional whistleblowers from coming forward. Just as whistleblowers should not be threatened by administration officials, inspectors general should not be interfered with or intimidated.
Your leadership is needed to maintain the American people’s faith in the rule of law. Your departments must fully comply with the demands from Congressional oversight committees, and inspectors general must be permitted to carry out any current or future investigations free from undue political interference. To that end, we urge you to immediately take the following steps:
- Order all department personnel to identify, preserve and collect records related to on-going investigations. This must include the recovery and preservation of all relevant communications on personal devices by government officials.
- Provide all information and documents within your respective department in relation to any operation or investigation over which Congress or the respective inspector general has responsibility, unless explicitly prohibited by law.
- Report any effort within your department or the White House to interfere with, intimidate, or otherwise obstruct an investigation by the relevant inspector general or Congress.
We ask that you answer the following simple questions no later than October 16, 2019:
- The Department of Defense ordered its staff to assist with “identifying, preserving, and collecting documents and other records” related to said investigations. Have you or your departments issued similar directives? If not, why?
- What efforts have been made to obtain relevant communications that took place on personal devices? If none, why?
- Has the president or anyone at the White House ever made a request or suggestion, whether implied or explicit, that you or other department personnel ignore or fail to comply with any inspector general request, audit, review or investigation?
- Has the president or anyone at the White House ever made a request or suggestion, whether implied or explicit, that you or other department personnel interfere with the transmission to Congress of materials related to an inspector general audit, investigation or any other work product?
Allowing anyone in your department to destroy evidence, intimidate whistleblowers, or interfere with independent inspector general investigations would all be additional evidence of obstruction of justice. It is your responsibility to direct all personnel in your department to cooperate with on-going investigations. This is critical to the proper functioning and the faith of the American people in their government, especially now. We look forward to your timely reply.
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